Austrian Arts in Late Middle Ages and Renaissance

Austrian Arts


According to globalsciencellc, Gothic architectural forms were initially adopted in Austria by the Cistercians based on French models (1st half of the 13th century): in the collegiate church of Lilienfeld (1202–63) and in the cloisters of Zwettl (1204–27), Lilienfeld (from 1222– 30) and Heiligenkreuz (from 1236–40). In advanced French Gothic forms, Duke Leopold VI. Build a palace chapel (“Capella speciosa”, 1222; demolished in 1799) in Klosterneuburg. Large cross-rib vaulted basilicas were built in Vienna (Michaelerkirche, before 1252) and Wiener Neustadt (before 1279) as well as by the mendicant orders in Friesach (from 1255), Krems (before 1263) and Stein (1264). The light-filled choir hall in Heiligenkreuz (1280–95) is particularly original. The most important work of Gothic architecture in Austria is Sankt Stephan in Vienna with its hall choir (1304–40), the 137 m high south tower (1359–1433) and the monumental nave (relay hall completed around 1450 by H. Puchspaum ).

Other important Viennese buildings from the 14th century are the Minoriten- and Augustinerkirche (with the Georgskapelle) as well as Maria am Gestade (tracery tower helmet completed in 1429). The Austrian tendency towards hall structures also shaped the Cistercian churches of Neuberg an der Mürz (after 1327) and Zwettl (with ambulatory, 1343–83). A key work is that by H. von Burghausen built choir of the Franciscan Church of Salzburg (1408 ff.; vault completed around 1450). In this succession v. a. in Upper Austria under Bavarian influence in the 15th century numerous churches that are characterized by variable floor plans (central pillar, three-pillar construction, two-aisled nave) and complex vault formations (net ribs, star ribs, lozenges) (e.g. Pischelsdorf, Braunau, Eggelsberg, Eferding, Mondsee). The dependence on the Wiener Bauhütte can be seen in the churches of Steyr, Krems (Piaristenkirche) and Eggenburg. Emperor Friedrich III appears in Graz (cathedral) and Wiener Neustadt (castle with Georgskapelle) . as a builder. The lush, dynamic loop rib vaults from around 1500 (Scheibbs, Sankt Valentin, Freistadt, Königswiesen, Leoben-Göß, Kötschach, Laas) are an Austrian peculiarity. In view of the Turkish threat, v. a. Fortified churches were built in Carinthia and Styria in the late 15th century (Hochfeistritz, Sankt Wolfgang ob Grades, Eisenerz).

Apart from medieval castles (e.g. Salzburg) and city fortifications (Hainburg, Freistadt), there are rare examples of late Gothic secular architecture (around 1500) in Bruck an der Leitha (Kornmesserhaus), Steyr (Bummerlhaus) and Innsbruck (“Goldenes Dachl”).

Renaissance forms based on Northern Italian models did not shape Austrian architecture until the 1520s. In addition to palace buildings by the Habsburgs in Vienna (Swiss Gate of the Hofburg, 1553; Stallburg, 1559–68; Neugebauten, 1568/69 ff.; Amalienburg, 1575 ff.) And in Ambras near Innsbruck (1561 ff.) Are buildings of the nobility at Porcia Palace in Spittal an der Drau (around 1533–96 / 97), the Schallaburg (with terracotta decorations, 1573) and the Rosenburg (1593–97) should be mentioned. The country houses, the centers of estate administration (Graz, 1527 ff.; Linz, 1564 / 65–77; Klagenfurt, 1574–94), testify to the self-confidence of the landlords. Protestant church buildings in Loosdorf (1570–88), Klagenfurt (cathedral, 1581 ff.), Horn (Sankt Georg, 1594–97) and Murstetten (1616–17) were changed to Catholic churches by the Counter-Reformation and mostly structurally.


During the 14th century, under Western influence, BC. a. outstanding work in Vienna: the servant Madonna of St. Stephen’s Cathedral (beginning of the 14th century), the canopy figures in the choir there (around 1320–40), the portals of the Minorite Church (around 1350). Works by the “Herzogswerkstatt” (around 1359–65) for Saint Stephen are the donor figures and tympana for the bishop and singer gate, the tomb of Duke Rudolf IV and the prince figures of the tower. They are among the most important Central European sculptures of the time. Further highlights are the numerous Madonnas, mostly from Salzburg workshops (e.g. Altenmarkt im Pongau, deanery church, around 1393) and Vespers (e.g. Kreuzenstein Castle, Wilczek Collection, around 1390–1400) of the soft style. Important winged altars were built in the late Gothic period (around 1430–1520): the so-called Znojmo Altar (around 1440–50; Vienna, Austrian Gallery) is attributed to J. Kaschauer ; M. Pacher created one of his main works as a painter and sculptor for Sankt Wolfgang (Upper Austria) (around 1477–81); the carved altar from Kefermarkt (around 1490) was probably made by a Passau workshop (perhaps Martin Kriechbaum), to which the altar from Mauer bei Melk (after 1509) also has references. Masterpieces of stone carving are the pulpit and organ base (around 1490 and 1513, respectively) by A. Pilgram and the lavish high grave of Emperor Frederick III. (around 1467–1513) by N. Gerhaert von Leyden (and successors) in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. From 1508, mainly South German artists created the bronze figures for the tomb of Maximilian I; The court church in Innsbruck was built specifically for this purpose (1553–62; Maximiliansgrab).


The early Gothic wall paintings of the Göttweigerhof chapel in stone (1305-10) have a close stylistic relationship with an illuminator’s workshop in Sankt Florian. The back panels of the Verdun Altarpiece in Klosterneuburg (around 1330), the oldest panel paintings in Austria, suggest stylistic references to north-western Europe and Italy. The portrait of Duke Rudolf IV (1358–65; Vienna, Diocesan Museum) was the first autonomous portrait in the German-speaking area. The style of the master of Heiligenkreuz – the eponymous diptych (1390–1400) today in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna – rather refers to the artist’s French origins. A group of panel paintings and drawings from a large Viennese (?) Workshop (including the Sankt Lambrecht votive panel, around 1425; Graz, Landesmuseum Joanneum) is controversial. The master of the Albrecht Altar from the Carmelite Church in Vienna (around 1438–40; Klosterneuburg Abbey) overcame the soft style by adopting Dutch realism. The Schottenmeister (former high altar of the Viennese Schottenkirche, 1469 ff.), Whose successor shaped Viennese painting up to 1500, also orientated himself on Western models. Regional schools were formed in Salzburg (C. Laib , R. Frueauf the Elder), in Tyrol (M. Pacher , M. Reichlich ) and Carinthia, where Thomas Artula von Villach (* around 1435/40, † after 1520) remained committed to the soft style the longest. The feeling for nature that became conscious around 1500 found its expression in the painting of the Danube School, initially by R. Frueauf the Younger. A large part of this comes from artists from southern Germany (L. Cranach the Elder, J. Breu the Elder, A. Altdorfer, W. Huber). J. Seisenegger performed at Ferdinand I’s court made an important contribution to the development of the Renaissance portrait. The activities of well-known foreign artists such as G. Arcimboldo , B. Spranger and L. van Valckenborch at the Habsburg courts had no lasting effect on general art production in Austria in the 16th century.

Stained glass

Significant early Gothic cycles can be found in the fountain house (Babenberger representations) and choir (prophets and saints) from Heiligenkreuz (around 1280–95). The panes in the main choir of Sankt Stephan (around 1340) and that of Maria Strassengel (around 1350–60) bear witness to the high status of Viennese glass painting. Another ducal workshop in Vienna made glazing for the ducal chapel of Sankt Stephan (Habsburg depictions, around 1370–80; Vienna Museum), for Sankt Erhard in der Breitenau and Viktring (before 1400). The panes for Sankt Leonhard in Tamsweg (“Goldfenster”, 1430–40) are of particular quality.

After 1520, the effects of the Reformation and the split in faith largely brought church commissioned art to a standstill.

Austrian Arts